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A clinic that serves mostly the uninsured and under-insured in St. Louis is closing its doors. St. Louis ConnectCare has announced it will close the Smiley Urgent Care Center November 15th.
The non-profit had announced in August it would shut down its specialty services, but now says it must also close the clinic at the old Regional Hospital on Delmar.
St. Louis Regional Health Commission Chief Robert Fruend believes other health care providers will follow suit because of state budget cuts. Fruend told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that 1,000 healthcare jobs have been lost in the region in the last six months.
The paper reports a Missouri Hospital Association estimate that the state will lose $4 billion in health care funding over the next six years, mainly from budget cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. They say the decision by Missouri lawmakers not to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act will further limit the amount of health care funds coming into the state.
An important healthcare safety net in St. Louis is laying off more than half its staff.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that St. Louis ConnectCare has issued 60 day layoff notices to 88 employees, including nurses and other medical personnel. The non-profit organization runs an outpatient clinic at the former St. Louis Regional Medical Center and provides outpatient specialty medical services for the poor.
ConnectCare CEO Melody Eskridge told the Post that about 60 percent of the patients they serve are uninsured and about 23 percent receive Medicaid. She says ConnectCare must reorganized because for financial reasons.
Both Eskridge and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay say the Missouri Legislatures failure to expand Medicaid is at least partly to blame for ConnectCare's bleak financial outlook.